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Vet Notes : cats

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Senior Cats need Special Care

Is your cat getting older? With good care, cats can live into their late teens even twenties. The percentage of older cats in the US is increasing. Many cats, especially older cats, do not receive the preventive care that they need.

Older cats undergo some common changes such as behavior changes, decreased ability to digest nutrients, brittle nails and a decrease in the quality of the skin and coat. It is recommended that older cats get two checkups each year, at 6 month intervals. The reason for this recommendation is the more rapid aging that occurs in cats than in humans and the amount of changes that can occur over a 12 month period.

Diseases or medical conditions often begin developing during middle age and if detected early, are much easier to manage than if they are detected later in the course of the disease.Diseases that are commonly diagnosed in older cats may begin years before they are actually obvious to the casual observer. Lab testing can detect subtle changes that may lead to earlier intervention and better management of these diseases. Common diseases in older cats include: diabetes, chronic renal disease, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.

Good quality nutrition is important to the overall health of your pet. Sometimes older cats will develop dietary intolerances to particular ingredients or foods and a diet change may be necessary. Remember never to "starve" your cat into a diet change, this can lead to fatty liver disease which is an extremely severe medical condition.

If your pet cat is middle aged or older, talk to your vet today about setting up a preventive health plan to keep your cat happy and healthy for years to come.

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